This bold headline in Tuesday’s edition of the YP was a scoop, surely. Possible sensation. Certainly an attention-grabber for anyone with the interests of Leeds United at heart. Probably there would be interest further afield as well, for anything LUFC-related tends to make eyebrows raise and ears prick up, pretty much anywhere. Love ’em or hate ’em – it’s very difficult to ignore Yorkshire’s Number One football club. So this YP story looked like a sure-fire winner. Only one problem. The content of the article bore absolutely no relation to the headline, whatsoever. There were no “first details”. In fact, there were no details at all emerging from this meeting of Cellino and McDermott. Nada, zip, zilch. Nowt. How perplexing.
What there was amounted to a rehash of several recycled, days-old, tired and weary semi-true factoids about United’s prospective new owner. We could read – again – about his convictions for fraud. The YP reckons they were both “spent” under English law and therefore would not be an impediment to Cellino’s passing of the League’s “fit and proper” test. This conclusion seemed tinged with regret on the Yorkshire Post‘s part, but the raking-over of cold ashes continued nevertheless. Fascinated, we were able to read – again – of how Cellino tried to sack McDermott and replace him with bosom buddy Gianluca Festa. Yawn. Heard it all before. And we read – yet a-bloody-gain – that McDermott was reinstated during the 5-1 derby whopping of Huddersfield Town (some sources, including GFH, say that he was never actually sacked at all). But again, we already knew about this, we’d known it all for ages.
And that was it – there was nothing more to this piece than a few reheated facts and rumours that were past their use-by date as long ago as last week. What was the justification, we might well ask, for that rather misleading headline, appearing to promise at least some of the inside story around what actually passed between manager Brian and King-elect Massimo? Ultimately, all there is to glean from this strange little article is that the Yorkshire Post appears to take a dim view of Signor Cellino and is thus moved to force-feed its readership a dubious diet of warmed-over snippets of an uncomplimentary nature.
The fact remains, after all, that Cellino is still quite likely to be Leeds United owner in the not-too-distant future. And the Yorkshire Post, in common with any regional newspaper, surely has a vested interest in maintaining a mutually satisfactory working relationship with its local football clubs. If it doesn’t, then it should have. All of which begs the question – how does the YP imagine that a policy of repeated bitching about Cellino, under headlines purporting but failing to deliver new information – just how do they think this is going to assist them in establishing some sort of rapport with the imminent Cellino administration at the county’s foremost club? It’s an odd sort of approach to the formation of professional and harmonious relations, to say the least.
If the YP have put all their eggs in the basket of earnestly hoping the Football League will somehow ditch Cellino, then that is one perilous and high-risk strategy. There may well be a need for some frantic kissing-up mighty soon. Perhaps, after all, they should adopt the Peter Lorimer tactic of heartily endorsing whoever seems likeliest to wield executive power in the near future – it seems to work for him, except insofar as his now-tattered “Legend” status with the fans is concerned. It will be very interesting to see which direction the Yorkshire Post does take over the next few weeks, when this tangled situation – hopefully – gets sorted out one way or another.
Whatever course they opt for, it’s devoutly to be hoped that a newspaper with a long history of covering the slings and arrows of United’s outrageous fortunes can, in future, try to maintain some sort of link between headline and story. Tuesday’s effort did them no credit at all, and many Leeds fans who rely on them heavily for updates on what the hell’s going on at Elland Road, will instead be wondering what the hell’s happened to journalistic standards at the YP. The consensus on Facebook’s “Elite Dirty Leeds Group” – an eclectic mix of academics, nutters, deviants and cynics, bound together by an abiding passion for Leeds United – was that the YP had sold us a pup with this headline, and that the intention was to run a Cellino hatchet-job dressed up as a news article. It’s hard to argue with that verdict.
Note to the YP: in future, chaps, if you’ve nowt new to say, perhaps it would be better just to say nowt. There must surely be goings-on elsewhere you can usefully fill a few column inches with. Filling them with your own jaundiced views on the soon-to-be-anointed King of LS11 is not a particularly bright idea. Backing the wrong horse at this stage of the game is less bright still.
The fans need their local rag to keep tabs on things at Elland Road – so don’t let us down. OK?